Sunday in Outer Blogness: Nailing jello to the wall edition!!

Here is a common problem faced by faithful Mormons:

A few years ago, Sam and I attended an endowment session at the Salt Lake Temple. As we approached the gate, a man stood on the public sidewalk a few feet away, holding a sign that read:

Joseph Smith had 27 wives!

A couple crossed the street on their way to the temple, saw the sign, and the man yelled, “That is a lie!”

I responded, “Yea. It’s probably more like 34.”

Both men looked at me in startled silence.

When discussing troubling policies or doctrines, lay church apologists fall into a typical trap. Someone makes an inflammatory comment about the church and the defender loudly denies it. Even if it’s true.

And then we really look dumb.

Faithful Mormon rameumptom has identified a bit of the problem:

That is the awesome thing about Mormonism: continuing revelation and change. But it requires us to first understand what our real doctrines now are, and to recognize what beliefs are not core doctrine.

Eric Johnson told a funny story about asking Deseret Book employees about all of the disclaimers on books by former prophets and General Authorities to warn people that the contents are not the official position of the CoJCoL-dS. In a nutshell, the only items that are official doctrine are this year’s lesson manuals, this year’s conference issues of the Ensign, and the lds.org website.

Any faithful Mormons reading this will immediately protest: the scriptures! The things written in the scriptures are official doctrines! To that I say, “Well, sort of.” NoCoolNameTom has analyzed the batch of scriptures that the CoJCoL-dS manuals have de-emphasized this year. Plus, if you’re following Alex’s scripture study series (or doing scripture study of your own) you’re perhaps aware of the problems of trying to figure out the precise doctrine based on the scriptures:

Here is what we can learn about the nature of God from the first few verses of this chapter:

  • God himself will redeem his people–meaning that God is Jesus (verse 1)
  • Because he will have a body, he will be called the Son of God (verse 2)
  • Because he was conceived by the power of God, he will be called the Father (verse 3)
  • He is both the Father and the Son (verse 3)
  • The Father and the Son are one God (verse 4)

This is idiotic. Can Abinadi, a prophet of the Lord, be any more vague? I’m still not sure if he’s talking about two separate beings that are part of the same godhead or if he’s talking about one being that has two separate roles. This is scripture? This is the word of the Lord?

I find it very difficult to believe that an infinitely intelligent god would be unable to find a better way to communicate the details of his identity to his people. Because this description is useless.

So, basically, if you have a doctrinal question that is not covered clearly in the scriptures or the official website and falls outside the short list of correlated topics covered in this year’s manuals, you are SOL.

Some will undoubtedly argue that that’s a good thing because — since there’s no official position on most points of doctrine — Mormons can use their own personal revelation to believe whatever they think is right. That’s kind of how it works: if you can answer the temple recommend questions affirmatively, then you’re considered a faithful member of the CoJCoL-dS. And they’re sufficiently vague that you can believe whatever you want on most of the controversial, doctrinal issues — as long as you keep your mouth shut about it and you never imply that your belief is an “official” belief of the church. That even applies to typical beliefs that are shared by most faithful Mormons. If someone asks you what Mormons believe on subject X (whatever it may be), the correct answer is always “Go look it up on lds.org.”

IMHO, it’s not a problem not to have an official position on a range of topics. The problem is that the CoJCoL-dS implies that there exist “official” positions on these topics — you’re just not necessarily allowed to know what they are. This allows the CoJCoL-dS do give entirely different answers through different semi-official channels (private discussions with G.A.s, talks by lesser G.A.s, announcements by the newsroom, articles in church-owned publications, etc.). And it also prevents faithful members from discussing controversial topics in any open, church-approved context.

A big example is Heavenly Mother. A lot of Mormon women would like to connect with this divine role model, and have some answers about women and the priesthood. Good luck with that! Because teaching (i.e. openly discussing) your speculation (i.e. anything at all about doctrine/theology outside the “correlated” topics) can get you excommunicated for apostasy.

Meet Denver Snuffer, who is currently getting excommunicated from the CoJCoL-dS for preaching heretical doctrines. (For example, I imagine LDS Inc. doesn’t like this post very much.) And in a related discussion on the utility of excommunication, the jello-like slipperiness of “official doctrine” again surfaces in the comments as being a central part of the problem:

The thing is, if we’re going to start disciplining folks for incorrect doctrine, we better figure out what our doctrine is in the first place. And it’s a slippery slope, because we’ve got a lot of culture mixed in– if I count the messed up pet-issue conflations of culture and politics I hear presented from the pulpit or the classroom every Sunday, we’re going to need to discipline a large part of of the body of the church. I think this guy is nutballs, but we live in a big giant glass house with no shortage of mixed nuts.

(Also note, Daymon Smith claimed that the only reason he hasn’t been “courted by these courts of Love” for his heretical book is because he doesn’t have as much of a following as Denver Snuffer. So, please, go over there and give his book the shocked and horrified-style attention it deserves, and, um… somebody go call his Stake President or something. 😉 )

Now let’s see some of the other topics discussed this past week!

Apologetics! Runtu told a tale of a “bullseye”! And FAIR rebranded itself, with some fun commentary from Mithryn.

Also, do you ever hear people justify the historic practice of polygamy by saying it was to help all the widows who had no source of economic support…? And others who have responded by wondering why women couldn’t have a support system that didn’t require them to put out for it? Like maybe a Scholarship for Single Mormon Mothers!! Or, hell, maybe even allow moms with young children have good jobs.

Mormonism and Mental Health! The Fledgling explained the connection. At least callings make you feel important and worthwhile, right?

Personal Stories!! J. Seth is reaching out to gay people in Russia, and has even been interviewed on Gay.ru. Scarlet A told a facinating story about what it’s like to be the daughter of the least-favorite wife of an important (polygamist) Mormon leader. And Lindsay found some good advice for her situation in an Ensign article — incidentally it was the same article that was the only Ensign article ever to win a Brodie Award.

Modesty! Expert (Textperts) say that the CoJCoL-dS is doing it wrong, and the Pope also has not-Mormony ideas about modesty.

Trolls! Does your blog or Facebook feed have an infestation, like the Overeducated Housewife’s or Regina’s? If so, maybe write ’em a poem or at least avoid pandering to them.

Humor!! Christian cartoons and rock! Even climate change can be funny!

Also, did you know that Palmyra, NY is on the New York Freethought Trail? Spoiler alert: It’s not for Joseph Smith’s vision….

So, it looks writing SiOB in the morning really is the right solution! It’s fun, and now I’m done and have the rest of the day to finish my around-the-house stuff. Now to make the kids some lunch. Happy reading!!

General Authority Bullsh*t: A category on my Blog

From Benson’s crazy commie-hatin’ days, to Paul H. Dunn’s deep diving lies, to little discrepancies in Monson’s talks, this category of posts on my blog, “Exploring Mormonism” reveals how much these men speak as men.

Hopefully the in-depth fact checking of some of the more influential leaders, conference talks, Ensign articles, and so forth will help illustrate that even the very influential statements aren’t inspired, but should be counted about as worthy as any other old man’s advice.

General Authority Bullshit

Park Romney’s legal challenge to exmo’s everywhere

I am absolutely convinced that the only thing that stands between the successful prosecution of the leadership of the Mormon Church for fraud and their exposure for blasphemy, is the simple collective united grass roots will of a relatively modest representative number the American people and, particularly of the ex-Mormon community, to support this cause and demand that their public officials attend to this matter. It is highly unlikely that this representative critical mass of support will be accomplished until after such time as a smaller group demonstrates their intent and resolve through a civil action against the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I support such a civil action, as a starting point and invite ex-Mormons everywhere to join me in speaking up in support of Mormon accountability and the prosecution of religious fraud.

Can we unite to form a civil lawsuit?  How many laywers are exmos and would be willing to help?  Can we get the ACLU in on it?

Original post found here

The Inconvenient Truths about Mormon Lactivism

Recently there has been much talk surrounding a YW leader who is unfortunately threatened of having her temple recommend withdrawn if she does not leave the room or cover herself while breastfeeding at church meetings. (Call to Action – Lactivism)

There are many things wrong with this scenario.  The LDS church is all about the Family, and one would think they would consider the most beneficial options surrounding parenting in their policies and practices to reinforce the “family” way.  We are certainly too uptight about breastfeeding in general in our western society, much less a Mormon one.  The church really doesn’t like being forced, however.  It is a patriarchal authoritarian one and if they feel they are being coerced,  will pull that authoritarian trigger to assert power where they might not normally.  Apparently mitigating factors were omitted from the original petition that would help us determine whether or not this is just a rogue ecclesiastical authority, or if something degraded in the communication between this gal and her ecclesiastical leader that he felt compelled to pull the authoritarian trigger.

Before I explore the nuts and bolts of the topic which has spread like spilt milk across the Mormon social media channels,  I will disclose I rarely breastfed my children in church and when I did, I did it in the nursing room.  I didn’t feel inconvenienced in doing so, in fact I often fled to the nursing room as the perfect excuse to get out of a predicted mundane, repetitive lesson or talk.  I have since left the church for reasons more ancillary to the mundane brain dead aspect and nothing related to feeding my children in a nursing room.  As someone who does not feel the church is ultimately a healthy or authentic belief system, I would be the first to encourage any woman to take her nursing baby and permanently exit the church if she feels strongly enough about the matter.

That said, I have had frustrations trying to engage in a reasonable dialogue about openly breastfeeding in church.  I am a mother of four.  I gave birth to my children naturally and am generally a proponent of all things nature-based.   There are a few main arguments being made in this discussion, however, that must be considered and addressed if the overall point is to be taken seriously.  It is clear there is a bias from lactivists for ignoring certain inconvenient truths about both the biology of the breast and breastfeeding, as well as dismissing clear cultural ramifications along the way.  Ignoring is counterproductive and easily allows anyone with basic knowledge of anatomy to dismiss the argument in its entirety.

Lactivist Assertion One:  Breasts are designed solely to feed the young and any man who looks upon an exposed breast as anything but a pure maternal act is either a pervert or culturally misguided.

Fact one:  Humans are part of the hominid family.  We are the only hominid where the breasts remain swollen at all times.  All other hominids have flat chests, except when lactating.  Furthermore, human hominids walk upright at all times.  As a result of us always being upright and frequently front facing (as opposed to other hominids), humans evolved the permanently swollen breasts as an alternate sexual attractor.  All other hominids use the buttocks as their sexual attractor.  In Desmond Morris’ “The Naked Ape”, he points out the evolutionary design switch of the general shape of the human breasts mirroring the buttocks; rounded with cleavage between them.  The larger the breast, the more closely they resemble the shape of buttocks.  From an evolutionary standpoint, this is the reason why larger breasts tend to be more attractive.  The breasts tend to swell when a woman is ovulating, suggesting fertility.  Additionally, the subconscious part of the male heterosexual mind messages that the larger the breast, the more milk it can produce, thus increasing the survival chance of offspring.

With regards to larger breasts, evolutionary psychology has recently contended men prefer women with larger breasts as it makes it easier for him to judge a woman’s age (and her reproductive value) according to the level of gravitational sag that comes with age (Marlowe,  1998)

INCONVENIENT TRUTH:  Males are designed by nature to find breasts attractive.  To insist they don’t is akin to asking a homosexual to not be attracted to his own gender.  Lactivists may not like this answer, but it is a fact.

 

Lactivist Assertion Two:  The breast is not a sex organ. There is nothing sexual about a mother feeding her baby!(see prolactin’s maternal-inducing traits)

Fact One: Or is it?  They are well connected. If not blatantly sexual,  breasts most assuredly should be viewed as an erogenous zone.   After birth, estrogen and progesterone levels decrease while prolactin and oxytocin levels increase.  Prolactin, which is secreted by the anterior pituitary, stimulates the breasts to produce milk. The prolactin level is very high in the early postpartum period in order to stimulate initial milk production.  Prolactin induces maternal behavior: a lactating mother experiences a form of psychological tension, which can best be described as a feeling or need of always wanting to see and hold her baby (Brewster, 1979).

Oxytocin is the primary connector between the breast and sexual response.  It is secreted by the posterior pituitary, has two major functions in relation to breastfeeding: a) a new mother feels her uterus contract during breastfeeding, and b) it is responsible for the milk ejection reflex during breastfeeding and orgasm. Oxytocin has the opposite psychological impact as prolactin does: It calms the physiological tension induced by prolactin. Consequently, while breastfeeding, the mother will experience a sense of well-being and contentment. The consequences of these hormones are that each time a woman breastfeeds, she derives great pleasure from the experience and contact with her baby. As a result, all or a very great part of her needs for affection are met through breastfeeding even if she is only partially breastfeeding.  This is obviously healthy and normal. However, one result is that the breastfeeding woman will likely have a decreased need to seek out her partner for pleasure and affection (Also referred to as affection anesthesia).

Oxytocin produces striking parallel effects between breastfeeding and coital orgasm:

  • Both stimulate uterine contractions
  • Both cause nipple erection
  • Breast stroking and nipple stimulation occur during both breastfeeding and sexual foreplay
  • Hormonal emotions are aroused by both types of contact in the form of skin changes
  • Milk let-down or milk ejection reflex can be triggered during both

 

According to some researchers, anywhere of 24% – 29% of women can experience orgasm solely as a result from oxytocin released during nipple stimulation. The percentage may increase if the woman has her legs crossed, as the uterine contractions released by the oxytocin can trigger a physiological sexual response.  This is otherwise known as a breast orgasm. Nipple stimulation activates the same region of the brain as clitoral, vaginal and cervical stimulation. (Journal of Sexual Medicine, Volume 8, 2011)

Another clear biological lactation/genital connection is the lack of vaginal lubrication when the breastfeeding mother becomes sexually excited.

INCONVENIENT TRUTH:  The breast is connected to sexuality.  It is simply unreasonable to expect all of humanity to treat it otherwise.

 

Lactivist Assertion Three:  Our culture is uptight and just needs to get over it.  Especially Mormon Culture.

Fact One:  There are three uphill challenges in overcoming breast issues in the church.

1.  Modesty in dress, particularly for females is pervasive in Mormon culture.  A quick search for modesty related information on LDS.org yields 451 results.  This should be a self explanatory challenge for those who are LDS.  Modesty is tied to cleanliness, chastity and purity.  For a cultural environment who emphasizes coverage of shoulders and knees, as well as garments, it should not be surprising they would be less relaxed about having exposed breasts at church.  Regardless of the wholesome reason that may be behind it, exposing a breast for ANY reason is going to fall outside of normal range and the tribe will react as such.

2.  Recent research from University of Westminster, Archives of Sexual Behavior just last month revealed interesting information about the type of man who favors larger breasts.  Researcher’s found that the largest percentage of participants (32.7 percent) rated medium-sized breasts as “most attractive,” followed by large (24.4 percent), very large (19.1 percent), small (15.5 percent) and very small (8.3 percent). However, a preference for large and very large breasts was significantly correlated with overt sexism, benevolent sexism, female objectification and hostile attitudes toward women. This connection was strongest when it came to benevolent sexism [emphasis by Froggie]. In other words, men who tend to idealize “traditional” femininity and perceive women as meek and weak, are also the most likely to prefer big breasts. “It is arguable that benevolently sexist men perceived larger female breasts as attractive because larger breast size on a woman is associated with perceived femininity.”

3. Western culture has made progress regarding breastfeeding.  It does, however, have secondary side effects of pornography, even maternal breast-targeted pornography such as pregnancy or nursing fetishes, that provide a less conducive climate to just simply “understanding and getting over it.”

INCONVENIENT TRUTH:  When you add the aspect of “benevolent sexism” along with the already existing Mormon-centric  puritanical, patriarchal, rigid gender role defined environment, layered with a coating of broader Western culture, this is no small uphill battle.  To quote Sun Tzu, “Know your enemy.”  Trying to leverage the breast as a tool when the tool itself has an enormous amount of already existing stigma may not be the best strategy.  It isn’t a situation that one just wakes up and “gets over.”

Conclusion:  If productive dialogue is to occur with the church on the matter of transitioning the cultural climate to allow for ease of breastfeeding at church,  one must acknowledge the above-listed inconvenient truths and be prepared to include them as part of the discussion.  Not ignore them or be blissifully ignorant of their impact.   A special nod of acknowledgement must be given to the current cultural norms within Mormonism  as well if one wants to effect change on this front.

References:

Komisaruk, Barry R., and Beverly Whipple. “Functional MRI of the brain during orgasm in women.” Annual Review of Sex Research 16 (2005): 62.

Levin, R. J. (2006). The breast/nipple/areola complex and human sexuality. Sexual & Relationship Therapy, 21, 237-249.

Marlowe, Frank. “The Nubility Hypothesis.” Human Nature 9.3 (1998): 263-271.

Sex and Breastfeeding:  An Educational Perspective. J Perinat Educ. 1999 Winter; 8(1): 30–40.doi:  10.1624/105812499X86962

Sholty, M. J., Ephross, P. H., Plaut, S. M., Fischman, S. H., Charnas, J. F., & Cody, C. A. (1984). Female orgasmic experience: A subjective study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 13, 155-164.

The Journal of Sexual  Medicine. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2011.02388.x. Surprise finding in response to nipple stimulation Lay summary – CBSnews.com (5 August 2011).

http://LDS.org

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/01/sexist-men-big-boobs-breast-size-study_n_2792287.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jill-di-donato/breast-orgasm_b_1871581.html

 

(edited to fix list marker)

Why do some Mormons equate their religion with their personal identity?

In a recent discussion with some devout Mormon family members, I framed the Noah and the Ark myth as just that, a myth. Immediately they took offense and claimed I was attacking them. I proceeded to explain that I do think it is perfectly reasonable – actually, more than that, obligatory – to educate people and disabuse them of patently false beliefs.  In response, they called me intolerant, disrespectful, strident, and fundamentalist in my thinking and went so far as to suggest that I want to rid the world of anyone who disagrees with me.  They insisted that it is an issue of respect that I not denigrate their beliefs.  They also suggested that, by calling their beliefs false, I was insinuating that they were stupid.  I disagree.

To clarify what I mean, let me illustrate.  I, and many others, have heard the Muslim belief that martyrs will receive 72 virgins when they die and go to paradise.  For a long time I believed that to be specifically stated in the Quran, but it is not.  The idea of pure beings – insinuated to be women, but may not be – is in the Quran.  They are called “Houri” and are kind of like angels.  The Quran specifically states that they have “pure” characteristics, but it does not specify that the purity is tied to their virginity.  It also does not specifically state that martyrs will be given 72 Houri as companions in paradise, though it is insinuated that Houri will be the companions of those who go to heaven and there are a number of Hadith (commentaries) that suggest 2 Houri will be given to men as wives.  Even so, those are Hadith and not the Quran.  The specific reference to 72 virgins is not in the Quran but in a narration by a Muslim commentator.  In short, while some Muslims may believe that 72 virgins await martyrs in paradise, it is not accurate to say that the Quran specifies this as a reward.  It does not.  This was explained to me in detail by a friend.

Based on the reasoning of my family members, the guy who informed me that the Quran does not specifically mention 72 virgins should have respected my belief that it does just because it was my belief. He was intolerant and disrespectful to correct me. He should not have eradicated my false belief. How dare he!!!

This leads to my first question: Is it wrong to ridicule patently false beliefs?

The second issue that struck me in this discussion was that my family members consistently said I was intolerant and attacking them, despite me never attacking them.  I said what they believed was ridiculous and clearly false, but I never said they were stupid or ignorant or anything else directly targeting them.  While I know it is not true of all Mormons and is obviously true of other people, I’m wondering why so many Mormons are unable to separate the beliefs of the religion from their own identity. If you criticize the church for its sexist and homophobic policies and doctrines – which are valid grounds for criticism at the moment – you are immediately accused of attacking the members as being sexist and homophobic.  And if you criticize Mormon beliefs as absurd or unsupported by science, they take that as a personal attack as well.

Why is it that some people cannot separate their group identity from their personal identity?  And why can’t some people separate their beliefs from their personal identity?

I get that both of those – group identities and beliefs – are part of our identity (I’m drawing on social identity theory here).  But it seems as though some people cannot have a discussion about the possibly negative aspects of one of their groups without feeling personally attacked.

Another example may help.  The US engages in a lot of sketchy activities.  We’ve deposed or attempted to depose leaders of countries we don’t like.  We’ve assassinated people.  We’ve engaged in wars that are probably based on nothing more than wanting to help some of our corporations become richer.  I fully accept that about the US.  Yet I’m a United States citizen.  By criticizing a group to which I belong, I don’t feel like it makes me a terrible person.  In fact, I think it’s indicative of a more complex way of thinking about the world: I’m part of a group, but I’m not responsible for everything the group does and the group identity is not my identity.

Maybe someone has already explored this phenomenon in detail.  I just spent a couple hours reading about social identity theory and cognitive biases to see if they address this.  The closest I found were: depersonalization (as part of self-categorization theory, which is related to social identity theory), collective narcissism, and the Semmelweis reflex, with collective narcissism coming closest (and it is noted to apply to religions). But none of these talk specifically about the conflation of self-identity and social identity.

If there isn’t any prior research on this, doesn’t it seem like there should be a name for this?  If this is a distinct phenomenon, giving it a name would be nice (e.g., social/personal-self conflation is the one that comes to mind).  Once it’s named, and the name becomes widely used, then when people do this you could simply send them to a Wikipedia page that describes the phenomenon and hopefully it would help them realize that they are conflating criticism of either an institution or a belief with criticism of them. It probably wouldn’t change anything, but it may help us to at least begin to understand this behavior.

Also, I don’t think this is unique to Mormonism, of course. Members of many religions do it. And some people seem to do it with politics as well.

The Church vs. The Gospel

When I began questioning mormonism, my Dad explained that there was a difference between the church and the gospel.  The church was made of people who were human, and the gospel was the kernel of truth within the church. He said that the mormon faith was the closest to being “all true” that there was.  I heard this from other members as well.  It was part of the push for people to distance themselves from saying “I know the church is true” in their testimonies.

This answer was okay for awhile.  It was easy to dismiss certain people/teachers’ opinions directly from McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine, racist beliefs, ignorant statements like “don’t talk to anyone who’s not mormon”.

But what really opened my eyes was the idea that just because the mormon church did something a certain way, didn’t mean their way was the right or only way to do it.  In fact, there are all sorts of churches and faiths out there, and they all have different ways of organizing ritual, strengthening community and fostering leadership.  Just because the blessing of the sacrament involves the same blessing (and same wording) each time, doesn’t mean that’s the only way to bless or take the sacrament.

When I really stopped expecting the mormon church to always do things the “correct” way, it allowed me to evaluate it like I would evaluate any organization.  And to compare the
members and structure with what was in the New Testament.

Does it practice what it preaches?  Does it make allowances (the law was made for man, not man for the law?)

With that said, it also became different to discern what part of mormonism was man made, and what part was from God.  Many of the answers to my questions were “we don’t know why”.  We don’t know why blacks couldn’t have the priesthood and inter-racial marriage was discouraged.  We don’t know why women aren’t allowed to go on missions until the age of 21.  We don’t know why all decisions need to be unanimous.  We don’t know why a physical body is needed for ordinances like baptism or marriage.  We don’t know why women don’t have priesthood authority.

It leads to circular reasoning.  If you don’t “know the truth” of a certain principle, one needs to pray about it to find the answer.  If you don’t find the answer, you need to pray more and make sure you’re living “gospel principles”.  The only acceptable answer is that it’s all true – otherwise the problem is with you.  The problem is never with the church or the gospel.

Is it any wonder that some people step out of this cycle?  Some don’t, they stay because of the “line upon line” principle.  They stay because it’s their community, their ethnicity; because the mormon church is the best answer out there.

Another option is that there are many ways to skin the proverbial cat, and many ways to develop faith and worship God (if at all).

At one point, many mormons were not as able to compare religions, and would know little about the works and doctrine of other faiths.  While the internet has shed light on mormonism, it’s also shed light on many other beliefs.  The mormon bureaucratic way of doing things is not the only way, and it’s not necessarily the right way for everyone.

Mormon Moment Series on poetrysansonions.blogspot.com

Ahhhhh! The smell of fresh, juicy, slightly wrong Mormon blog posts. It must be Sunday!

I have been doing a series of posts related to Mormon and Post-Mormon issues that seem to be *hot* this year. With more and more people interested in Mormons, and now the change in rules for when male and female missionaries are allowed to serve, the Bloggernacle keep heating up! So, if you missed the first posts in the series (because I was a slacker and wasn’t cross posting) here is your chance to catch up. If you have been catching them on my blog, you will notice they are a little different. Thanks to Kevin who suggested that I should include the topic of the post in the title, and not jsut which post number it is. Ahhhhh, aren’t friends great for helping you see your blind spots? I am glad I have so many friends looking out for me.

I am using the same introduction for each post, both because I think that it helps keep them uniform, but also so I don’t have to try to come up with 20 ways to say the same thing!

What this series is about:

If you are Mormon, you are probably sick of hearing about the Mormon Moment. There are so many people who are suddenly interested in Mormon culture, and there are lots of Mormon bloggers that are cashing in and sharing their stories. Some of the stories end up being kind of silly, but if you are simply trying to get people to read about what is important to you, the Mormon Moment is one way to draw people in.

I do not want people to think that I don’t respect the bloggers whose posts I am sharing. All of them are good bloggers, and most of them write about Mormon topics all of the time. I have no doubt that they would have shared these thoughts and stories at some point, but as one friend told me the other day, “in the race to the election, bloggers are pushing hard to attract new readers before the Mormon Moment is gone.” So, to help you, I sifted through hundreds of posts to share the ones that I still remember. (This group of posts are nowhere near a complete view of Mormon bloggers. All of the bloggers are either Mormons, post-Mormons, or write about Mormon issues, even when it isn’t election time.)

So, what have you missed?

Mormon Moment Series – Part One – Mormon Mind Control?

Mormon Moment Series – Part Two – Ayn Rand and Quirks in Mormon Culture

Mormon Moment Series – Part Three – Modesty, Perfection and Secrets

Mormon Moment Series – Part Four –Why can’t we seem to say what we mean?

Mormon Moment Series – Part Five –Fasting For Followers!

Mormon Moment Series – Part Six – Who is a Mormon?

While it is not officially part ofmy Mormon Moment Series, please take a minutes and check out this post about Mormons, Masterbation, and the story of a teenager driven to attempt suicide, because of his wet dreams.

But for the Grace of God….

This post is about a teen suicide attempt and some of the actions that led to it. The language is not vulgar, but it is specific. Please read only if, it is emotionally safe for you. A few days ago, I sent an email out to several family members and friends about a post on the Mormon Therapistblog. It deals with a sensitive subject, so please understand that this particular linked post is not g-rated, although it will not include any explicit language either. If you are uncomfortable with discussions about sexuality, masturbation, how to teach adults and children healthy sexual attitudes, or the negative impacts of shame, I suggest you skip this post, and not click onto the linked article.”
You can go here to read the entire post, including the responses from TBMs who are supportive of Mormon Therapist’s view, who also explain how the email about this young man touched their lives, and the lives of their children. This is a bold stand from all sides, as Mormon Therapist boldly proclaims, “Masturbation is not sinful behavior in of itself nor is it a transgression.”
We live in a time of great turmoil, and out youth especially need to love and support to deal with a variety of challenges. From masturbation to Coke, homosexuality to the age of sister missionaries, the church is changing or softening on a number of important issues. I believe that we need to support those who are members of the church, who continually ask questions and look for answers. I also believe that current and former members need to find common ground, in as many areas as they can, and work together on those shared goals. Almost every post-Mormon still has family or friends who are members of the church. Almost every member of the church knows someone who has left, been kicked out, or is inactive. While there are very real hurts on all sides, I believe that coming together and being the chance we want to see in our own lives, the lives of our family members, and in the lives of all of the children we love, can make that change a reality.
Whether you are celebrating General Conference today, or are in mourning because of it, there are always ways to find a little common ground, a little place of friendship, a little piece of shared light. We do not have to change our minds about our belief or lack thereof. What we can do is put the first brick into creating a bridge, that will help span the gap between us, and the children and youth who need to know that it gets better, no matter what your sexual orientation or habits!

One last link. If you have a talent to share, leave a comment, and you could be the lucky winner of a pair of pearl stud earrings!

How Dare They: The Romneys’ Sense of Entitlement

I am not really tuned in to the presidential election. Not as I think I should be. I am, after all, a bit of a political junkie. But I listen to the news on NPR, and I catch the headlines on the Internet, the New York Times, Huffington Post, the Salt Lake Tribune, and other premier news outlets and call it good. Or at least as good as its going to be.

One thing I have been struck by so far in this election is the Romneys sense of entitlement. For example, when people started questioning why the Romneys were not releasing more tax returns, Ann Romneys response was: Weve given all people need to know and understand about our financial situation and about how we live our life. And so the election, again, will not be decided on that. [It] will be decided on who is going to turn the economy around and how are jobs going to come back to America.

Hmmm. Ann Romney has decided what the American people need to know. (And how dare those nasty Democrats challenge what she and her husband have decided is what the American people need to know.)

Then there was the recent tit for tat between the Obama and Romney campaigns. From a recent USA Today story, we read:

Vice President Biden, criticizing Republican deregulation policies, told a crowd in Virginia on Tuesday that Romney ‘s approach would “put y’all back in chains.”

Later, during a speech in Ohio, Romney said Biden’s comments reflected “an angry and desperate presidency.” The Republican challenger added, “Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago.”

That drew this retort from Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt: “Governor Romney’s comments tonight seemed unhinged and particularly strange coming at a time when he’s pouring tens of millions of dollars into negative ads that are demonstrably false.”

(Biden said there was no hidden meaning in his use of the word “chains,” noting that Republicans have been pledging to “unshackle” businesses.)

Romney did not back off today, telling CBS This Morning, “The president’s campaign is all about division and attack and hatred — unhinged would have to characterize what we’ve seen from the president’s campaign.”

As I listened to the stories coming across NPR, the thoughts that came into my mind were these: This is not about Mitt and Ann Romney being members of a privileged wealthy class of Americans who look down with distain upon ordinary Americans who need to be told whats best for them. This is really about Mitt and Ann Romney being Mormons and believing that they are not answerable to others for their actions and believing that they are not accountable to a common standard, but to a higher standard which they alone understand.

How dare others impugn their integrity? The Romneys believe that they have acted with integrity, that they have disclosed all they need to disclose, and how dare others impugn their actions and their decisions, and most importantly their integrity. If its one thing Mormons like the Romneys take issue with, its with others impugning their intergrity.

How dare they?

 

Additions to the Post-Mo Lexicon

A couple of conversations I’ve been in lately have yielded terms I think people on this blog will find useful.

the first was coined a month or so ago by Chino Blanco and defined by me:

Joe-ha-dist n. An excessively ardent and bellicose defender of Joseph Smith: Joehadists rarely have much sympathy for Emma.

I coined this one today:

priest-splain v. to mansplain, as when a man presumes to educate a woman on a topic she already understands, with the additional characteristic of being done by male clergy or priesthood holders on topics related to religion and gender; not merely condescending and sexist, but holier-than-thou and morally judgmental.

I like this term because it applies to a variety of religions, as in

A problem in the LDS church is that in any conversation about gender, the male leaders tend to priestsplain to the sisters, or The Vatican sent some dudes to priestsplain to those uppity US nuns that they’d been thinking far too much about poor people and not enough about stuff like abortion.

I posted this on facebook, and a friend offered this synonym: “clergysplain. Related terminology: Pastorswifesplain. See also: Bettysplain.”

In a related conversation on a friend’s fb page, someone who agreed to be identified as “Katie Sweet Spirit” coined “preachsplain,” my favorite of the terms and the one I think will be most useful here:

preach-splain v. To sanctimoniously lecture someone on a religious topic they understand every bit as well as you, but disagree with you about the meaning of, because you are a devout believer and they, in your mind at least, are not: Yeah, I know the basic doctrine. You don’t need to preachsplain it to me.

I look forward to using these terms here.